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Amandla Stenberg

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Amandla Stenberg
Amandla Stenberg by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Stenberg at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1998-10-23) October 23, 1998 (age 22)[1]
Occupation
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active2011–present
AwardsFull list

Amandla Stenberg (born October 23, 1998) is an American actress and singer. She is known for her acting and public image, Stenberg has received several accolades, and was included in Time's list of Most Influential Teens in both 2015 and 2016.[2][3]

Stenberg made her acting debut with the film Colombiana (2011), and had her breakthrough playing Rue in the film The Hunger Games (2012), for which she won a Teen Choice Award. They received critical acclaim for their roles as Maddy Whittier in Everything, Everything (2017) and as Starr Carter in the film The Hate U Give (2018), the latter of which earned her an NAACP Image Award and a nomination for a Critics' Choice Award. Their other film roles include voicing Bia in Rio 2 (2014), and her starring roles as Ruby in The Darkest Minds (2018) and Leyna in Where Hands Touch (2018).

In television, Stenberg had the recurring role of Macey Irving in the series Sleepy Hollow (2013–2014), and starred as Halle Foster in the sitcom Mr. Robinson (2015) and as Julie in the Netflix miniseries The Eddy (2020). In 2015, she made her musical debut as part of the folk-rock duo Honeywater. Their single, "Let My Baby Stay" was featured in the film Everything, Everything (2018).

Early life

Amandla Stenberg was born in Los Angeles, California, the child of Karen Brailsford, an African-American spiritual counselor and writer, and Tom Stenberg, who is Danish.[4][5][6][7] Their paternal grandmother had Greenlandic Inuit ancestry.[8] Stenberg has two older half-sisters on her father's side.[9][10] Their first name means "power" or "strength" in the South African languages of IsiXhosa and Zulu.[11]

At age four, Stenberg started doing catalog modeling shoots for Disney.[1] They have appeared in commercials for clients such as Boeing.[12][13]

Career

2011–2015: Acting breakthrough and music

In 2011, they appeared in her first feature film, Colombiana, as a younger version of Zoe Saldana's character.[14] Their breakthrough came at the age of 14, when they were cast as Rue in the 2012 film The Hunger Games.[15] The film was a critical and financial success,[16][17] and Stenberg's performance was praised. She received a number of awards and nominations, including a Black Reel Award nomination.[18]

In 2013, they were cast in the short film Mercy playing the daughter of Robin Thicke and Paula Patton; Thicke directed the film.[19][20] Stenberg had a recurring role on season one of Sleepy Hollow from 2013 to 2014.[21] In 2013, Stenberg began performing on the violin and singing harmonies at Los Angeles venues with singer-songwriter Zander Hawley. In 2014, Stenberg voiced Bia in the animated film Rio 2, which was a commercial success.[22][23]

In 2015, Stenberg released her first EP in August 2015 as the folk-rock duo Honeywater. In 2015, they released the video "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows".[24] They played series regular Halle Foster on the short-lived series Mr. Robinson, which ran in 2015.[25] Stenberg co-wrote the comic book Niobe: She is Life with Sebastian Jones, which was illustrated by Ashley A. Woods, and published in November 2015.[26][27] It is the first nationally distributed comic that has a black woman as its protagonist, author, and another as the artist.[28]

2016–present: Critical acclaim and recognition

In 2016, Stenberg appeared in the music video for Lemonade by Beyoncé,[29] and won the BET YoungStars Award.[30] In the same year, they signed with The Society, a modelling agency.[31] Also in 2016, Stenberg had auditioned for the role of Shuri in the superhero film Black Panther, however, she walked away because she felt not right for the role. They told Variety in 2018: "It was so exhilarating to see it fulfilled by people who should have been a part of it and who deserved it and who were right for it. I just wasn't."[32][33]

Stenberg in 2018

In 2017, Stenberg and Sebastian Jones released Niobe: She is Death, the second part of the trilogy.[34] In the same year, they starred in the romantic drama Everything, Everything, directed by Stella Meghie,[35][36] and co-starring Nick Robinson. Their single, "Let My Baby Stay", was featured in the film's soundtrack.[37] She received praise for their performance, and earned a Teen Choice Award nomination.[38]

In 2018, she played the lead role of Starr Carter in the contemporary drama The Hate U Give, based on the novel of the same name, which is about the Black Lives Matter movement. The film was received positively,[39] and Stenberg received critical acclaim for their performance, with the magazine Rolling Stone writing "It is impossible to over-praise Stenberg's incandescent performance, a gathering storm that grows in ferocity and feeling with each scene."[39] The film's director, George Tillman Jr. wrote that "She has this ability to make you feel like you're seeing the real deal, which comes from a level of dedication to the material that's rare at any age, I was already excited by the work I'd seen from her, but it's even more exciting to think about the work she's yet to do."[40] They earned several awards and nominations for the role, which include winning an NAACP Image Award and being nominated for a Critics' Choice Award.[41][42] In late 2018, Stenberg starred in Amma Asante's World War II drama Where Hands Touch.[43][44]

In 2019, Stenberg portrayed Elizabeth Eckford, a 15 year old girl who in 1957 was among a group of nine black students who were initially prevented from entering a racially segregated high school in Little Rock, during a segment on the television show Drunk History (2019).[45] In May 2019, they joined the cast of the Netflix miniseries The Eddy,[46] which was released on May 8, 2020. That same month, she signed on to star in the remake of the 1996 thriller film Fear.[47] In August 2020, they were cast as Alana Beck in Stephen Chbosky's film adaptation of the broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. They will also collaborate with the show's composers, Pasek and Paul, on a new song being written specifically for their character, whose role was expanded upon from the stage version.[48]

Public image and politics

Dazed magazine named Stenberg "one of the most incendiary voices of her generation" when it featured them on its Autumn 2015 cover.[49] They were included in Time's list of Most Influential Teens in 2015, and again in 2016.[2][3] In 2016, she was included in the list of SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders by Oprah Winfrey.[50]

Stenberg identifies as an intersectional feminist.[26][51] She is outspoken about her political views in interviews and on social media, and was named "Feminist of the Year" in 2015 by the Ms. Foundation for Women.[52][53] She has spoken publicly on social media about cultural appropriation.[54] Their video, "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" admonished Kylie Jenner for adopting that traditionally African-American hairstyle.[24] In April 2016, Stenberg gave a speech at WE Day California, a WE Charity event.[55]

Personal life

In 2016, Stenberg announced via Instagram that they would be studying filmmaking at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.[56][57][58] Stenberg did not end up attending the school as she found herself booking jobs and instead chose to continue with their acting career.[59][60][61][62]

Stenberg is non-binary,[63][64] and uses both she/her and they/them pronouns.[65][66] They previously said that they were bisexual[54][67][68] and pansexual.[69] In June 2018, in an interview with Wonderland magazine, she came out as gay.[70][71] From early 2018 to late 2018, Stenberg dated singer Mikaela Mullaney Straus, better known by her stage name King Princess.[72]

In a July 2017 interview, Stenberg said she has stopped using a smartphone, and that she thought phones and social media can have a negative effect on mental health.[73]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Colombiana Young Cataleya
2012 The Hunger Games Rue
2012 The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games Self Documentary
2013 Mercy Sarah Short film
2014 Rio 2 Bia Voice
2016 As You Are Sarah
2017 Everything, Everything Maddy Whittier
2018 The Darkest Minds Ruby Daly
2018 The Hate U Give Starr Carter
2018 Where Hands Touch Leyna
2021 Dear Evan Hansen Alana Beck Post-production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2012 A Taste of Romance Taylor Television film
2013–14 Sleepy Hollow Macey Irving 4 episodes
2015 Mr. Robinson Halle Foster 6 episodes
2017 Neo Yokio Helenist Episode: "O, the Helenists..."
2019 Drunk History Elizabeth Eckford Episode: "Trailblazers"
2019 Gaslight Sarah (voice) 9 episodes
2020 The Eddy Julie Main role

Music videos

Year Title Artist(s) Role Ref.
2016 "Lemonade" Beyoncé Herself [29]

References

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External links